“Luxury, beauty and history in Calvados country, along with easy-going hosts whose attention to detail is a joy”
The sumptuous bedrooms are reached via a decorative metal-bannistered landing running around an Italianate ‘well’. Suites are the grandest, with private salons and dressing rooms. Chambres are cosier. All have original polished floorboards and superb reproductions of drawings, engravings, oil paintings and portraits. Six feather pillows top regal beds, linen is white and organic, and mattresses, we are told, are divine.
The big handsome Chambre des Fragrances is decorated in the style of Napoleon III in creams, puttys and blacks, and has views that swoop over the Orangery gardens to a medieval ruin on a far hill. How romantic is that? Larger still is Suite des Blancs (not ‘blanc’ but muted reds and moody purples), furnished in Empire style, with 2-toned grey painted panelling and a dressing room with a majestic antique mirror. Great windows overlook the gardens, the chapel and, to the front, the inner courtyard. This room can also be booked as a Chambre, without the dressing and sitting room.
Most magnificent of all is Suite des Rubans decorated in gentle 19th-century Gustavian tones, scattered with Louis XVI-style furniture, antique porcelain wash basins, an exquisite Persian carpet, and 8 luminous windows with more views. A seductive suite for a family of 4.
On the second floor is the intimate Suite des Pensées, decorated in Directoire style with a hint of theatre in pictures and accessories, and a bedspread embroidered with exquisite pastel flowers - excitingly reached via a small wood-panelled anteroom with a ‘secret’ door. Chambre des Esquisses is on a cosier scale and decorated in late 19th-century ‘orientaliste’ style. Tall table lamps add a glow to a palette of white, cream, grey and moss green. As for the bathroom, intricately tiled in Andalucian style, it is as huge and as fabulous as all the rest, with metre-wide bath tubs, snowy bathrobes and classy toiletries. Chambre des Levants is the smallest room and completes the set on the second floor.
The breakfasts are an event in themselves. Delicious pastries and warm breads are accompanied by runny honey and local jams, with fruit juices and fragrant hot coffee on hand to refresh and revive. White linen, as stiff as a wimple, adds to the sense of occasion.
Note that there are no tea- or coffee-making facilities in the bedrooms, but they are on offer in the main salon downstairs.
For lunch or dinner, there are numerous restaurants a short drive away, and your hosts are more than happy to make recommendations and book tables for you. Normandy food is famously rich. If you want to do the local thing, try a 'Trou Normand' - a shot of Calvados taken with apple ice cream to clear the palate between courses. Other local appley delights include pear liqueur, pear and apple ciders and Benedictine, taken post-meal as a digestif. Other goodies in the Norman basket include pungent cheeses and fresh oysters. Most local towns have weekly markets from which you can easily put together a spectacular picnic.
Not an obvious destination for families, but the owners have a young child themselves, and children who stay are made very welcome. There are extra beds and baby cots to borrow.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
The Chambres can fit 1 baby cot or 1 rollaway bed; the Suites can fit 2 baby cots or rollaway beds. Suite des Blancs and Suite des Rubans can inter-connect.